Conceived as the heart of Towson University’s West Village Precinct and the center of student life, GWWO’s design of this new student commons communicates the spirit and energy of the campus. Organized around a central atrium, the Commons is an iconic landmark of the precinct, drawing students in and providing opportunities for out-of-class learning in both formal and informal spaces.
Exterior terraces and dining areas integrate the building with the site and promote interaction between the building and the precinct’s main quad. A projecting area of glazing terminates a campus axis and ties the new building to its adjacent greenspace to the north. Programming includes retail and dining areas, study spaces, meeting rooms, student gathering spaces and a large multi-purpose special event space. Orientation and way-finding are aided by a wooden wall within the atrium, offering an experiential anchor.
The steeply sloped site incorporated into the design as the third and fourth levels rotate from the grounded lower levels to engage the hill and bridge the access road, allowing on-grade access and egress points. Embracing its importance as a central gathering space, connections are then forged with the existing off-campus housing to the south through the fourth floor entry on the east side.
Emphasizing the use of sustainable techniques, energy efficient features include daylighting, water conservation measures, and a green roof that serves as a practical cooling system and also an outdoor event and gathering space. Located on the east side of the project site, an existing specimen Elm tree, one of the oldest in the state, was preserved, integrated and embraced into the design, serving as a unique testament to the site’s sustainability.